Evening Lectures

Next up - The Changing Landscape of Vancouver's Private Gardens, 1890-2020

VHF’s Evening Lectures series offers illustrated lectures that look at the history of Vancouver, covering the events, movements and people that have shaped our city. The talks are co-hosted by Vancouver Heritage Foundation and event partner, the Hycroft Heritage Preservation Foundation. Since the first event in 2012, the series has included a diverse range of subjects and perspectives in nearly 50 lectures from more than 30 presenters. A listing and descriptions for many of them can be found below.

Notice Regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
VHF is conscious of changing health considerations for individuals attending public events due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and are closely monitoring the situation and public health advice. If you have any questions regarding upcoming events please contact us via email.

We appreciate your support as we continue to find new ways to provide interesting and informative educational opportunities. If you are able, please consider making a donation to VHF.

Fall 2020 Virtual Lectures

VHF’s Evening Lecture series continues this fall in a new virtual format. Join us from the comfort of home to enjoy fascinating pieces of Vancouver’s history from a selection of speakers. If you are unable to attend the scheduled lecture time, you may register ahead of time and a link to access the recording will be sent to you. Please note the link is only active for a specific period of time.

Tuesday, December 1st – The Changing Landscape of Vancouver’s Private Gardens, 1890-2020
7pm – 8:30pm
Register here, $16 / $10 (incl. tax)

Please note: This lecture will be offered online. Information on how to attend will be emailed to registrants.

Vancouver’s gardens are a reflection of the city’s diverse and ever-changing community, as seen in their design and structure, and in the plants and materials chosen. Cultural and design influences both local and from around the world have shaped these domestic spaces. Landscape architect and arborist Adrienne Brown will explore a variety of garden styles, starting with the gardens of the region developed by Indigenous communities. Immigrants from around the globe brought their own garden concepts with them including from Britain, Spain and China, adapting them to the local climate and available products and materials. Adrienne will also discuss how popular historical designs, such as Mid-Century Modern, are expressed in Vancouver, providing several examples of unique gardens that blend styles in memorable ways, such as Arthur Erikson’s private garden that brought together Japanese concepts with Modernism.

About the speaker

Adrienne Brown is a Landscape Architect and Arborist who has been designing private gardens and other landscape developments for the past 30 years. She served on the Board of VanDusen Botanical Gardens in the years leading up to the development of the new Visitors Centre and currently chairs the Park & Tilford Garden Review Board. Adrienne has given Hycroft Lectures on the History of Stanley Park and Crescent Park in Shaughnessy as well as VHF Walking Tours of the Downtown Open Space, and Coal Harbour. In 2014 Adrienne completed a biography of her parents, Harry and Jessie Webb as part of the Unheralded Artists of BC Series.

Online Lectures from the VHF Archives

Visit our YouTube page for more heritage and history themed videos including two previously recorded Evening Lectures; A Century of Planning from Bartholomew to City Plan with Michael Kluckner and Japanese Hall 1928-2018: The Extraordinary Story of Community Resilience, Survival and Transformation with Laura Saimoto. Be sure to subscribe and click the notification bell to be notified when we upload a new video.

If you enjoyed either of these lectures, please consider making a donation to VHF. Thank you for your continued support.


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Thank you to the University Women’s Club at Hycroft for partnering with VHF to offer this evening talk series.


Tuesday, November 17th - Vancouver After Dark: Stories of the City's Historical Nightspots

Vancouver is a city with a history of transformation. In its long history of entertainment venues, some favourite nightspots have been lost, yet are storied places locals are still talking about years after they closed, burned down, or were bulldozed in the face of new trends, rising rents, gentrification, and other vagaries. In this virtual lecture, author Aaron Chapman explored stories he discovered while writing his book, Vancouver After Dark, from the city's earliest saloons to the Chinatown cabarets, punk palaces, East End dives, goth hideaways, discotheques, and taverns. He shared archival posters and photos on screen, many published for the first time, that chronicle how the city's nightlife changed with the times, and how some nightspots themselves ushered in changes to Vancouver. As the city’s entertainment venues face unprecedented challenges due to coronavirus, Aaron questioned what will the future will look like for Vancouver nightspots and if the great days of Vancouver's nightlife are behind us?

October 27th - Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow

Vancouver’s first and most prolific Chinese photographer, Yucho Chow, operated a commercial studio in the heart of Chinatown from 1907–1949. He chronicled life during a tumultuous and transformative time in Canadian history and captured the faces of early marginalized communities including South Asians, Black Canadians, Indigenous residents, mixed-race families and Eastern European immigrants. For some communities, he was the only photographer willing to take their portraits. Sadly, his negatives - and the individual stories and history they chronicled - were all discarded when his studio closed. Chinatown curator Catherine Clement spent over eight years uncovering Yucho Chow’s photographs - one family at a time, one photo at a time, one story at a time.

In 2019, Catherine mounted the first-ever solo exhibition of Chow’s work. That exhibit created a flood of new submissions which are now in a book. She will shared the story of Yucho Chow and showed some of these remarkable never-before-seen private photographs and stories of diverse, early communities. She also explored what these images tell us about Vancouver’s history and the role Chinatown played in the lives of so many groups.

March 3rd - A Century of Planning Vancouver: From Bartholomew to City Plan
Over 90 years ago Vancouver hired Harland Bartholomew & Associates to create Vancouver’s first city-wide plan. Highly influential in the first half of the twentieth century, Bartholomew's firm emerged as leading American urban planners starting in 1911 and pioneered methodologies for plans in many cities. The plan provided an ambitious vision and specific concepts for the young city at the time when Vancouver amalgamated with two neighbouring municipalities to become the modern City of Vancouver, with automobile-oriented transportation demands and planning for industrial growth as priority considerations. Author Michael Kluckner explored what was implemented, what worked and what did not, and tracked more recent changes in legislation and development, such as the vision for False Creek, condominium living and the push for compact communities in both the city and the region.


November 26th - "Land of Destiny": A History of Vancouver Real Estate
The history of Vancouver is closely connected with the history of real estate. Even before its incorporation in 1886, real estate was both the city's most valuable resource and its most prominent industry. For more than a century, it has shaped virtually every aspect of Vancouver's growth -- its name, placement, most prominent streets and neighbourhoods, local landmarks and its involvement in global events like Expo 86 and the 2010 Olympics. Author Jesse Donaldson presented an illustrated lecture that examined some of that history, beginning with the first land sales in the region, through the CPR and Vancouver Improvement Company oligopoly of the 1890s, through the housing shortages of the 1930s and 40s, and into the present. While the pressures on the market have increased over the past century, the factors shaping real estate have remained much the same.

October 29th - The History and Legacy of the Vancouver Park Board
As the Bloedel Conservatory marks its 50th anniversary, Park Board Commissioner, John Coupar, and retired Park Board Public Affairs Manager, Terri Clark, explored the history and legacy of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. First established in 1888 and enabled by the Vancouver Charter, the Vancouver Park Board is the only elected body of its type in Canada, setting it up for constant friction, at one time or another, with all other elected groups. That single fact has made all the difference in our character as a city. Learn about some of the long-term park plans over the years, successful and otherwise, that have sought to increase green space citywide in the face of rapid development, and the efforts of devoted Park Board employees whose work resulted in some of the globe's most horticulturally divine green spaces and recreational pleasure grounds. The speakers also highlighted the story of the Bloedel Conservatory through five decades at the highest point of the city, including how the stage was set for its conception and development in one of Vancouver’s most beautiful open spaces, Queen Elizabeth Park.

October 1st - “Just what is it that makes the modern house so different, so appealing?”
In August of 1950, the inaugural issue of Western Homes and Living was published. In it publisher Howard Mitchell wrote, “Here is the long-awaited quality magazine of the home, the first fully illustrated, smooth paper, consumer magazine in British Columbia.” The magazine fashioned itself after the American Sunset Magazine, featuring illustrated stories on houses and articles on ‘West Coast living’. Articles that profiled the owners and architects were common, along with many that featured homes designed by architects for their families. Visually arresting photographs by artists such as Graham Warrington and Selwyn Pullan were among the best produced anywhere during that time. This combination made the idea of modern living accessible to a growing middle-class. In this lecture Author and Curator Greg Bellerby explored the magazine between 1950 and 1966 when it was a champion of modern residential architecture and instrumental in establishing West Coast regional style. He discussed how the articles praised the virtues of modern design and how it enhanced family life and contemporary living as the magazine attempted to answer what makes a Modern house so appealing.

April 30th - The Francophone Pioneers of Vancouver: A Little-known History and Legacy
The first Francophones in BC were the voyageurs that facilitated the travels of European explorers into the territory. It is thus not surprising that they were well represented among the early settlers of both Victoria and Vancouver. Their still extant commercial buildings in the older sectors of Vancouver indicate their influence in commerce, industry and culture. Maurice Guibord, President of Société historique francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, brought these now obscure early Vancouverites to light and highlighted their significance in the region’s history and landscape.

April 9th - Japanese Hall 1928-2018: The Extraordinary Story of Community Resilience, Survival and Transformation
2018 marked the 90th anniversary of the Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall (VJLS & JH) at 487 Alexander Street. Laura Saimoto, VJLS & JH board member, told the story of the Japanese Canadian Internment during WWII, of forced dispossession and community resilience through the lens of the 112 year-old organization and their building. Before 1942, the VJLS & JH was the educational, social and community hub in the Powell Street area. It was one of the only properties that was returned to any Japanese Canadian individual or organization after World War II. Laura was the Project Chair of the Heritage Renovation Childcare Project in 2012 which rehabilitated and transformed the 1928 heritage building into a licensed childcare centre, now Children’s World (Kodomo no Kuni). We learned how the immigrant community built their lives in Canada, how the community was shattered by the Internment, and yet how the VJLS-JH was able to rebuild, adapt and evolve. Laura briefly shared highlights of the Highway Legacy Sign Project – a community driven partnership with the Ministry of Transportation - which created and installed eight Interpretative Highway Legacy Signs at the physical locations of the Internment and Roadcamp sites in the interior of British Columbia.

February 26th - Vancouver’s Hidden Heritage Building: The Resurrection of the Heather Pavilion
One of Vancouver’s most significant heritage buildings is covered over by later additions and hidden from view. Since 1994, the Heather Pavilion has been a designated heritage site, but it has not been restored to its former glory. Heritage Consultant Donald Luxton provided an illustrated talk about the history of the establishment of the Vancouver General Hospital, the construction of the original Heather Pavilion in 1906, and the potential to restore this important part of Vancouver’s history.


October 30th - Granville Street: 1886 to Today - Commerce, Entertainment and Historic Buildings
Granville Street continues to evolve since it was first created as the centrepiece for the CPR town site in 1886. Later known as Theatre Row, it is still part of Vancouver's Entertainment District today. Along Granville Street there is a significant number of early 20th-century heritage buildings that now house shopping, offices, music venues and bars. Aaron Chapman, author of several books on Vancouver history, and Michael Gordon, recently-retired Senior Planner for downtown Vancouver shared images and stories about Granville Street including highlights from venerable venues, the Orpheum, the Commodore and the Vogue Theatre. The lecture explored how the street has changed, its evolution of over 100 years of nightspots and the speakers' thoughts on how this popular corridor may change in the future.

October 9th - Vancouver’s Police Museum: Stories from 240 E Cordova
The building that houses the Vancouver Police Museum and Archives is a key artifact in the collection. Purpose built and opened in 1932, the former Coroner's Office, Coroner's Court, and City Analyst Laboratory reflects both innovative technology and city planning of its time. It remained in operation for seven decades. Transitioning to a museum starting in 1986, the building and its preserved spaces provide insight into how the Coroner’s work was conducted during much of the 20th century. Museum Director, Rosslyn Shipp and Curator, Elizabeth Peterson discussed the use and adaptation of the building’s facilities through the decades, the Museum’s custodianship of the historic site today and the unique perspective the Museum offers to connect with Vancouver’s history.

September 18th - Private Property, Public Regulation, and the History of the Arbutus Corridor
The Arbutus Greenway is a 10km linear park through Vancouver's west side that, in the two years since the City purchased the land from Canadian Pacific, has become a favourite route for cyclists and pedestrians. The Greenway is only the latest use for this strip of land that the Canadian Pacific Railway assembled in 1902 for its Vancouver & Lulu Island Railway and on which passenger and freight trains rolled until a final freight shipment in 2001. Professor Douglas Harris explored the conflict between the City and Canadian Pacific that led to the Supreme Court of Canada. Douglas will also considered the manner in which Canadian law establishes the balance between public regulation and private property.

April 24th - Themes, Subthemes and Memes: Telling History in a Different Way
For this lecture, Heritage Consultant Donald Luxton looked at Vancouver’s history from his groundbreaking work, the Vancouver Historic Context and Thematic Framework. From the big ideas of city planning to the details of design and the everyday, Donald covered a wide swath of the city’s history from social movements such as Temperance, Suffrage and the Women’s Liberation Movement, through all manner of social, economic and community endeavors. This includes everything from the development of water and sanitary services to barber shops and beauty salons. It provided a fascinating glimpse of this work and a fresh perspective on the identification of historic places. The Thematic Framework provides a foundation for identifying gaps in what can be recognized as having heritage value in Vancouver and has an integral part in the City of Vancouver Heritage Action Plan.

March 20th - Squat City: An Informal History of Squatters in Vancouver
The story of the squatter's shack in Vancouver encompasses generations of history including the origins of Gastown and Kitsilano, the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, the Depression-era city, the post-WWII veterans' housing crisis, the hippie movement and modern say social housing activists who occupied the old Woodwards store in 2002. Author and Historian Daniel Francis investigated how the squatter's shack contrasts with glass towers of the modern city, a different kind of iconic structure, projecting a view from the margins. This lecture discussed the historic context of the squatter's shack, as well as its place in our contemporary "City of Glass".

February 27th - Stanley Park: Digging Deeper and Rethinking Cultural Heritage
Stanley Park is often thought of as a relatively untouched piece of nature amid Vancouver’s built landscape. The appreciation and understanding of the park is broadening and deepening, as thousands of years of First Nations presence are better understood beyond the colonial history. With this context, Reconciliation Planner Rena Soutar (Cha’an Tdut) and Vancouver Park Board Archaeologist Geordie Howe consider how we define “our cultural heritage” as a city. They explored the Indigenous peoples’ relationships to the land, the approach to stewardship and how the environment was cultivated to support communities.


November 7th: Kitsilano Indian Reserve: Contact to Today
Allotted by the colony of British Columbia in the 1860s and expanded in 1876 after the colony joined Canada, the Squamish Indian Reserve Kitsilano No. 6 amounted to 80 acres at the mouth of False Creek.  In 2002, a unanimous five-judge panel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision that approximately 10.5 acres of the former Kitsilano reserve, which had since disappeared from the maps of the region, should again be Indian reserve. What happened to it between 1876 and 2002? How did it disappear? This talk by Douglas Harris explored the history of the Kitsilano Indian Reserve and the changing legal framework that surrounds what might come next on this important parcel of land.

October 24th: What a Mess: False Creek, the Industrial Waterway
It’s hard to imagine from today’s perspective that False Creek was once the centre of industrial activity for the city. From the beginning of non-native settlement the waterway became the home to sawmills, shipyards and other heavy industry. This emerging industry destroyed the fishery and displaced the seasonal and permanent settlements along the shoreline that had sustained local First Nations for centuries.  John Atkin explored the history of industrial development and the Creek's more recent transformation.

September 19th: Shaughnessy's Backstory
This lecture traced the challenges of resisting shops, schools, churches and frat houses as the local economy seesawed between boom, bust, and wartime housing shortages. Innovative zoning changes in the 1980s allowed some of the mansions to convert to strata and infill their grounds in return for heritage conservation, but a wave of wealthy buyers in the 21st century wanted new, single-family homes prompting the City to establish its first Heritage Conservation Area.  Michael Kluckner explored the early development and history of this significant area and what elements contribute to its historic value.

April 25: Ten Myths About Vancouver - The Real Stories
Was there ever any blood in Blood Alley? There are many aspects of Vancouver’s history that are taken for granted, but are they true? Did it happen or was it made up? In this talk Historian and Author, John Atkin looked at the origins of some of the well-worn myths in our city’s history.

February 21: Stanley Park Sites and Stories - Then and Now
Landscape Architect and Author, Adrienne Brown, explored the cultural impacts that have shaped an area inhabited for centuries that is today called Stanley Park. Brown looked at the places and objects that have come and gone, developments which were envisioned but never built, and described the history of some of the cherished structures and spaces which remain in the park today.

March 28: Rum-runners and Border Wars - Prohibition in BC
We all know about jazz era gangsters like Al Capone and the prohibition era in the United States, but Vancouver had its own flirtations with prohibition. Daniel Francis, Historian and Author of Closing Time: Prohibition, Rum-runners and Border Wars, explored how local law enforcement efforts to dry-up the city utterly failed, and immense fortunes were made by entrepreneurs willing to answer the demand for illegal booze.


November 29: Who was Major Matthews? with City Archivist Heather Gordon

November 1: The Legacy Sites and Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games with BC Sports Hall of Fame Curator and Author Jason Beck

October 18th: Sawmills and Opera Houses: The Origins of Chinatown with Author and Historian John Atkin

May 29th: The Crescent: From the CPR and the Garden City to Today with Landscape Architect and Author Adrienne Brown

April 5th: How Streetcars and Real Estate Shaped Vancouver with Historian and Author John Atkin

February 16th: Selling Vancouver to Tourists: 1890 - 1960 with Author and Artist Michael Kluckner


November 10 - BC: Lumberyard of the World, with Author and Historian John Atkin

October 27 - Artists, Architects and Artisans: Canadian Art 1890 - 1918, with Charles Hill

September 29 - Vancouverism 1954 - 1991, with Senior Downtown Planner, Michael Gordon

June 2 - A History of Vancouver Apartments, with Michael Kluckner

April 21 - The Wild History of Gastown, with Don Luxton

March 17 - Art Deco Architecture in Vancouver, with Maurice Guibord

February 17 - How it all began: The Bloedel Conservatory, with John Coupar


November 4 - Vancouver's Vaudeville: the Great White Way, with John Atkin and Tom Carter

October 21 - Samuel Maclure in Shaughnessy, Jim Wolf

September 30 - Gentrification, Heritage & the Future of Vancouver,  Michael Kluckner

April 15 - Arts & Crafts Movement of the Pacific Northwest, Larry Kreisman

March 4 - Challenges & Trends: Public Engagement for Community Planning, Dr. Maged Senbel

January 21 - Vancouver as a Sustainable City, Dr. Tom Hutton

Professional Development Credits are dependent on the lecture topic and speaker: AIBC, PIBC, BOABC, BCSLA, AICBC

You can earn 1 Old School credit per Evening Lecture or Brown Bag Talk, to a maximum of 3 towards the Certificate in Heritage Conservation.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation recognizes the diverse history and cultural heritage of Vancouver and that the city is located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.